I'm so excited to finally be able to share my entry for the Sew Dolly Clackett contest! The sun was refusing to shine and life was getting in the way of photo opportunities that for a while I was thinking I was never going to get this project up on the blog. Thankfully the forces aligned and here we are.
This is the By Hand London Anna dress, which, to be honest, probably doesn't need any introduction at this stage as I am quite sure I am the LAST person to have tried this pattern. I was always a little bit nervous that it wouldn't be very forgiving on my tummy so up until now was giving it a wide berth, even though I loved the style. But then the really fun contest cooked up by Sarah and Clare came along and I knew this would be my opportunity to give the pattern a go. Rosin has made a number of Anna dresses, my absolute favourite being her Beauty School Dropout dress - honestly, it is just fab!
Next decision was what fabric to make it out of. This pattern asks for FOUR meters of fabric…which is quite a lot. I had actually managed to track down some of the fab synchronised swimmers fabric that Rosin had used, and did in fact buy 4 meters. But then when I got it I decided that an exact replica wasn't quite what the contest was about so I now have some fun other plans for that fabric. Instead I turned to my stash (yeay - stash bustin' time!). I didn't have 4 meters of ANYTHING in my stash but I did have some beautiful floral cotton from Thailand that I had been saving for just the right project. I knew it would be PERFECT for a maxi dress, but I was sceptical that I would be able to squeeze an Anna out of it. However, sometimes if you want something badly enough - you find a way!!
I had 3 meters of the fabric, which was helpful, but it was unfortunately very narrow and I had to do a lot of reshuffling of pattern pieces. I threw together a really quick toile/muslin as I had a suspicion that I wouldn't need to cut the full length of the skirt pieces, and I was right. 7 inches could be easily lobbed off the end and I'd still have enough for a narrow hem (erm…just! I had to do the smallest of smallest narrow hems and I can only wear this dress with flats!!). Even so, I still had to cut the back skirt pieces upside down. Initially I wasn't happy about this but eventually decided that the floral pattern was busy enough that no one would even notice. And based on Rosin's most recent blog post I am now thinking it was fate ;)
Even though I am late to catch the Anna train, I am now so fully onboard, in fact I think I'm going to ask the conductor for this hat - it is a brilliant pattern and I am so happy with how my dress turned out. Actually, one of the BEST things for me was the fact that I didn't do a single alteration - it pretty much fits straight out of the packet (so to speak) - LOVE THAT! If I had to be really picky I would maybe say I need to make the bodice a smidge longer/lower the waist line. But that really would be nit picking.
The dress was made using french seams throughout, apart from the centre back and the seam with the split. Speaking of the split, I decided to go a little conservative and not have it opening quite as high as the pattern suggests. And believe me, the split certainly shows enough when the wind blows! The seam with the split requires you to tuck the raw edges in and slip stitch down. This creates a really beautiful inside, but man is there a lot of hand stitching to do! I really wanted to keep the insides as beautiful as possible, which is why I went with the french seaming, but when I got to the centre back seam, which has a zip, I wasn't sure what to do to keep it 'pretty'. The fabric is really light weight and practically frays while you look at it so zigzag or pinking wasn't going to cut it. I could have treated the seam as I did the split seam, but to be honest I am not a huge fan of hand sewing. So I ended up using my overlocker. Not as pretty, but a compromise I was willing to live with.
Because the fabric is so fine, it is a bit see-through and I thought a lot about whether I should line the dress or not. One of the reasons I wanted to do this (apart from the obvious reason of making it less see-through) was because I thought a facing would be visible around the neck and would look ugly. The lining needed to be cotton because I wanted this dress to be comfortable to wear during summer but I only had white in my stash and when I held it up to the purple you could actually see it through the fabric and I didn't like the effect. So…I decided to forego a lining and to finish off the neckline I used purple bias binding (bonus stash busting - I had a PERFECT match of bias binding in my stash with just enough to do me…I think I had about 10cm left after this project!!!). In order to combat the see-through issue I just wear this dress with a skin coloured slip instead.
The photo above has some strange wrinkles going on, but I don't think it has anything to do with the fit or sewing, more just the nature of the fabric - it creases very easily!!!
Anyway, all in all I am so happy with my new dress! It has already been worn out twice and I've received lots of compliments. So even if I don't win in the competition I feel I have won already (cheesy enough for you?!!!).
Oh and finally - here's to Ms Dolly Clackett and her lovely husband to be! All the best for the wedding and married life (oh, and have a fab time in Paris!!!).
And here's a wee fun gif of the dress in action!!!